COLUMBIA — Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School has named Jeremy Osborne the new head coach for the boys basketball program.
The announcement came three weeks after Tolton made the decision to not renew former coach Tyler Clark's contract.
Osborne was on the team's coaching staff the past two seasons, and serving as the associate head coach this past year.
"It's truly, truly a blessing and an honor to represent the team and be trusted to run a program of that caliber," Osborne said.
Osborne said he hasn't spoken with Clark since his release, but wishes him the best.
Last season, Clark led the Trailblazers to a 20-8 record and an appearance in the Class 2 quarterfinals in the team's second year of varsity basketball. But the on-court success could not overcome the off-court issues the school had with Clark. The details of those issues have still not come to light.
In a news release from Tolton, athletics director Chad Masters praised Osborne's "strong morals" and "faith" before highlighting his experience with the Tolton athletic program.
"We believe that this continuity within the program, as well as his other strong characteristics already discussed, separated him from all of the other excellent candidates and helped him earn the privilege of serving our community, school and basketball program," Masters wrote.
In an email sent to the Missourian after Clark's release, Tolton principal Kristie Wolf wrote, "The program, as a whole, was not developing in the same way that the rest of our school was developing."
Osborne was a part of the basketball program last season. But he was not involved in the problems the administration had with the team.
"The problems within the program were there and those were the reason we chose to not renew Tyler Clark," Masters said. "Jeremy Osborne was not a part of those problems."
Osborne said he was not even privy to the details of the issues.
"Whatever they were, things were not going the right way," Osborne said. "Those were things that were kept sealed from the other coaches on the staff. I want to come in with a clean slate and build the culture from the ground up."
On the court, Osborne said he wants to establish a defensive mentality that was lacking during points in the previous season.
"One thing we're going to do is we're going to guard," Osborne said. "We're going to be the toughest team on the floor."
Tolton's two assistant coaches, Deronne Wilson and Ben Dierkes, will be returning to coach under Osborne. Osborne said he would be looking to bring on one more coach as well.
The 2014-15 season will be a year of changes for the Trailblazers.
Along with a new head coach, Tolton will be in a new class. The school moved up to Class 3 after only two years in Class 2. And the basketball team will have seniors on the roster for the first time.
"Anytime you make a jump like that, you're going to see more athletes. The level of competition just rises and we like that challenge," Osborne said. "Some thing we're going to pride ourselves on is not backing down."
Tolton's leading scorer, Michael Porter Jr., will be returning to the Trailblazers for his sophomore season, and he will be bringing his younger brother, Jontay Porter, with him. Porter, who is 6-foot-8, averaged 28 points a game in his freshman season.
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